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Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, enzymatically hydrolysed - JECFA specification


Prepared at the 51st JECFA (1998), published in FNP 52 Add 6 (1998) superseding tentative specifications prepared at the 49th JECFA (1997), published in FNP 52 Add 5 (1997). This substance was included at the present JECFA in the group ADI "not specified"for modified celluloses, established at the 35th JECFA in 1989.


Enzymatically hydrolyzed carboxymethyl cellulose; CMC-ENZ; INS No. 469


The product is the sodium salt of a carboxymethyl ether of cellulose, which has been partially hydrolyzed by enzymatic treatment with food-grade Trichoderma reesei cellulase. The total content of mono- and disaccharides does not exceed about 7.5%.

Chemical names

Carboxymethyl cellulose, sodium, partially enzymatically hydrolyzed

Chemical formula

Sodium salts of polymers containing substituted anhydroglucose units with the general formula:



n is the degree of polymerization

x = 1.50 to 2.80

y = 0.2 to 1.50

x + y = 3.0

(y = degree of substitution)

Structural formula

where R = H, CH2COONa or CH2COOH

Formula weight

178.14, where y = 0.20

282.18, where y = 1.50

Macromolecules: Not less than 800 (n about 4)


Not less than 99.5%, including mono- and disaccharides, on the dried basis


White or slightly yellowish or greyish, odourless, slightly hygroscopic granular or fibrous powder


Carrier, glazing agent, stabilizer, thickener






Soluble in water; insoluble in ethanol

Foam test

Vigorously shake a 0.1% solution of the sample. No layer of foam appears. This test distinguishes sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, whether hydrolysed or not, from other cellulose ethers and from alginates and natural gums.

Precipitate formation

To 5 ml of a 0.5% solution of the sample add 5 ml of a 5% solution of copper or aluminium sulfate. A precipitate appears. This test distinguishes sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, whether hydrolysed or not, from other cellulose ethers, and from gelatine, carob bean gum and tragacanth gum.

Colour reaction

Add 0.5 g of the powdered sample to 50 ml of water, while stirring to produce a uniform dispersion. Continue the stirring until a clear solution is produced. Dilute 1 ml of the solution with 1 ml of water in a small test tube. Add 5 drops of 1-naphthol TS. Incline the tube, and carefully introduce down the side of the tube 2 ml of sulphuric acid so that it forms a lower layer. A red-purple colour develops at the interface.

Viscosity (60% solids)

Not less than 2500 mPas corresponding to an average molecular weight of 5000 D. This test also distinguishes enzymatically hydrolyzed CMC from non-hydrolyzed CMC since it is not possible to make a 60% solution of ordinary CMC.

See description under TESTS



Loss on drying

Not more than 12% (105o to constant weight)


Not less than 6.0 and not more than 8.5 (1 in 100 solution)

Sodium chloride and sodium glycolate

Not more than 0.5%, singly or in combination

See descriptions under TESTS

Degree of substitution

Not less than 0.2 and not more than 1.50 carboxymethyl groups (CH2COOH) per anhydroglucose unit on the dried basis

See description under TESTS

Residual enzyme activity

Passes test

See description under TESTS


Not more than 3 mg/kg

Determine using an atomic absorption technique appropriate to the specified level. The selection of sample size and method of sample
preparation may be based on the principles of the method described in Volume 4, “Instrumental Methods.”



Viscosity (60% solids)

To 40 ml of water, add 60 g of the sample, stirring continuously. To ensure the formation of a clear solution without air bubbles, leave the solution to stand in a refrigerator (+4o) for several hours. Using a Bohlin viscometer or an equivalent instrument, measure the viscosity of the solution at 25o using a shear rate of 147sec-1.



Sodium chloride

Heat 5 g of the sample, weighed to the nearest 0.1 mg, in a platinum or porcelain crucible, first with a small flame so that the sample does not ignite and then, when the charring is complete, heat further in an electric oven for 15 min at about 500o. After cooling, pulverize the ashes thus obtained and extract several times with warm water. Filter the extracts into a 500-ml volumetric flask, acidify with nitric acid and dilute to the mark with water. Determine the NaCl content of 100 ml of this extract by the method of Volhard, using 0.2 N silver nitrate and 0.02 N ammonium thiocyanate. Each ml of 0.02 N silver nitrate is equivalent to 1.169 mg of NaCl. Calculate the sodium chloride content by the formula:

% NaCl = [(a x 0.001169 x 5)/b] x 100


a = 0.02 N silver nitrate consumed (ml)

b = dry weight of the sample (g)

Sodium glycolate

Proceed as directed under Chromatography (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) using the following conditions and using pure glycolic acid as the reference substance:

Column: Two cation exchange columns in the H+-form in series, e.g. two Fast Fruit Juice columns, 15 cm x 7.8 mm, Waters, or equivalent

Elution: Isocratic

Mobile phase: Aqueous 0.05% phosphoric acid

Flow: 0.5 ml/min

Detector type: UV or diode array, 205 nm

Sample size: 50 µl of a solution of 200.0 mg of the sample in 20 ml of eluent

Degree of substitution

Degree of substitution

Weigh accurately about 200 mg of the sample, previously dried at 105o to constant weight, and transfer it into a 250-ml glass-stoppered Erlenmeyer flask. Add 75 ml of glacial acetic acid, and connect the flask with a water-cooled condenser, and reflux gently on a hot plate for 2 h. Cool, transfer the solution to a 250-ml beaker with the aid of 50 ml of glacial acetic acid, and titrate with 0.1 N perchloric acid in dioxane while stirring with a magnetic stirrer. Determine the endpoint potentiometrically with a pH meter equipped with a standard glass electrode and a calomel electrode modified as follows: Discard the aqueous potassium chloride solution, rinse and fill with the supernatant liquid obtained by shaking thoroughly 2 g each of potassium chloride and silver chloride (or silver oxide) with 100 ml of methanol, then add a few crystals of potassium chloride and silver chloride (or silver oxide) to the electrode.

Record the ml of 0.1 N perchloric acid versus mV (0 to 700 mV range), and continue the titration to a few ml beyond the endpoint. Plot the titration curve, and read the volume (A), in ml, of 0.1 N perchloric acid at the inflection point.

Calculate the degree of substitution (DS) by the formula

(16.2 A/G)/[1.000 - (8.0 A/G)],


A = the volume of 0.1 N perchloric acid required (ml)

G = weight of the sample taken (mg)

16.2 = one-tenth of the formula weight of one anhydroglucose unit

8.0 = one-tenth of the formula weight of one sodium carboxymethyl group

Residual enzyme activity

Prepare a 5% solution of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose having a viscosity of 25-50 mPas as a 2% solution. To 20 g of this 5%-solution, add 2 g of a 20% aqueous solution of the sample. Using a Bohlin viscometer or an equivalent instrument, follow the viscosity of the mixture for 10 minutes at 25o, using a shear rate of 147sec-1. No change in viscosity (indicating hydrolysis of the sodium carboxymethyl cellulose), occurs.

As a control, measure the viscosity of 2 g of water and 20 g of the same sodium carboxymethyl cellulose solution.


Calculate the percentage of enzyme treated sodium carboxymethyl cellulose by subtracting from 100 the sum of the percentages of sodium chloride and sodium glycolate, determined separately by the procedures above.